Friday, January 15th, 2016

Since these #myNCTstory stories started to appear I have been intending to write mine but wasn’t sure where to begin…so I decided to go all the way back – over 27 years ago.

Unintentionally pregnant and single my sister recommended I attend an NCT course and I booked it, low income reduction applied, not really knowing what it was. My friend Annie, who lived in the flat upstairs agreed to be one of my two female birth partners and she also came to the course with me. We didn’t take it very seriously (sorry Lindsay) and I think my total disbelief that I would soon be a mother created my slightly hysterical attitude. I wouldn’t have liked to have us in one of my courses!

In February 1989 my son Jami was born and the connections I had made in the course started to pay dividends. My family were thankfully incredibly supportive but the day-to-day challenges with my new baby were mostly shared with some of the women I had met in my NCT classes – Gill and Nikki (both midwives) and Pat (who went on to become an NCT breastfeeding counsellor). Long empty days were saved by having new friends nearby who were in a similar situation – “we are all single parents in the daytime” they would say, and “at least you don’t have someone coming home expecting dinner and messing up bedtime” they laughed. My situation wasn’t one I would recommend but with their support and friendship (plus other friends and family – you know who you are) I made it through.

It wasn’t until several months later that Pat, who had become very involved in the local NCT branch, dragged me along to a meeting. I offered to help at a Home Birth Study Day the branch was hosting and it was that day that changed everything. The subject matter was so fascinating. While we there someone suggested that I would make a great antenatal teacher (I think not I replied) and then another bright spark said it would help me keep my skills up to date if I took on the role of branch secretary! With fantastic support with babysitting so that I could attend meetings I suddenly found myself in a whole new world – very different from the jobbing actor/temporary secretary that I had been before. Everyone was so welcoming and seemed to cross a wide spectrum of backgrounds – our branch was Lewisham & Greenwich and ranged from affluent Blackheath to deprived areas like Deptford. A real mixed bag. Surrounded by strong passionate women I began to seriously consider the antenatal teacher training.

So, when Jami was 3 years old and at nursery half days I started my NCT training. It was amazing! Having dropped out of university in 1979 at 19, and after only one year, I was suddenly discovering that I had a brain that worked quite well and that learning was something I now really enjoyed and was ready for. The subject matter was engrossing and I felt as if I had found my passion at last.

The next few years were a bit of a blur – I qualified with lots of local branch support with childcare and books. I started teaching classes, moved out of London to Farnham in Surrey and then – with some additional training – became an NCT Assessor. Meanwhile my friend Annie, remember the birth partner at the beginning, had given birth to three children of her own and was now about to start her own NCT Antenatal training journey! Continuing to learn from the women I assessed and the on-going CPD NCT offered I found myself contemplating training to become a Tutor. It would be another 10 years before I finally took the plunge and haven’t looked back since. I now teach and tutor for NCT – antenatal classes, yoga for pregnancy and mother & baby yoga. It’s been a challenging and exciting journey. Good times and bad times. Hard work and fulfillment. Waves of press criticism from time to time and ‘NCT hate’. I can’t say I have enjoyed every minute because there have been times when walking away would have been my preference…but those times passed and here I am, 27 years later, still part of the NCT and proud of what it, and I, have achieved.

So this is for all the fantastic women (and men) that I have worked with and supported over the years – it is you who have made it all worthwhile.